Police officers in Chula Vista, Ca., near San Diego, spend thousands of hours each year responding to calls at the city’s budget motels, whose rates – as low as $45 a night – attract some troublemakers, says the San Diego Union-Tribune. Last week police requested more power to tackle crime at what they call “problem” motels, including the authority to shut them down. Last week, the City Council voted unanimously for a plan to require motels and hotels to apply annually for a $70 lodging license beginning in November 2007.
The new law allows the police chief or the city manager to deny a lodging license if, for example, a motel has a record of prostitution or drug dealing, cockroach infestations, a lack of deadbolts on the doors or an unsanitary swimming pool. Similar ordinances have been adopted in Oakland and Stockton. Chula Vista police have responded to a wide range of calls at the motels. One man set his room carpet and window blinds on fire with a blowtorch while high on methamphetamine. Another man recently released from prison who had not reported for parole was printing counterfeit money on copiers in his room. Police Chief Rick Emerson provided statistics showing the city’s 26 motels account for 1,300 calls for service a year, with more than half of those 911 calls coming from five properties.